Yesterday I had a meeting in Paducah, a city two hours west of where I live. It was a final review meeting, pretty much like the one I went to back in the Fall of 2009. Basically our project plans have been submitted for a while and have been reviewed and looked over by the State folks. We then show up, sit down, and begin dissecting the work, page by page. Each page is reviewed for inconsistencies, errors, changes. Is the Right of Way going to have to be moved here? Is that 18" pipe going to be able to handle the discharge here? This kind of stuff.
While I definitely had more confidence in myself and my work this time around, I still feel very new to the business. I've technically had my job since May 2009, and I've learned a lot during that time. But, sitting in a room full of people much more experienced than myself is quasi-nerve racking. For one, I'm still new to a lot of the jargon. For two, I still think of myself as new. I mean the project I've worked on since my hire date actually began in 1997, so I've stepped in at the tail end of things and have scrambled to make sense where I can.
Nevertheless, the meeting went well. I learned some stuff. I jotted down a pageful of notes of things I need to change and things I still need to do. I'm behind, drowning in a pool of things to do, but I'd rather be that way than splashing in the kiddie side. To me, having options that are somewhat pressed for time (~2 months) is easier on my mind than an uncertain timeline with uncertain responsibilities.
And then I woke up and realized that the meeting wasn't just a meeting. No, it was something much larger, something so unavoidable that it was impossible to, uh, avoid. Like Neo waking up in The Matrix I saw that life itself is one big meeting. We're all in a room with the bigwigs, being judged and guided. Sometimes the jury's kindhearted. Sometimes they're cruel and selfish. Either way, a jury exists to judge, and we're all judged by our peers. We're all thrown to the wolves, but only after we've been drenched in blood and covered in wool. We're all wolves, devouring one another, lapping up the sick after we've had our fill. The earth groans beneath our selfishness as the heart groans within. We hurt. We grieve. We try our best to prepare for the meeting and yet somehow we always come up short.
I take comfort in knowing that Jesus suffered and was hated. He told His disciples that they would be persecuted for following Him and for living like Him. He told them that if He was hated, then so, too, would be His followers. I take comfort in this. It's not easy knowing that the world hates me, that the world wants to see me fall, that there's someone waiting as a wolf to tear me apart all for the sake of their own selfish desires. The way I figure, I must be on the right track to suffer, to be persecuted, to be gobbled up and stomped upon by the world. I count it all joy when I fall into trials. I'll gladly stand up for what's right and take the gut punch.
And then I wake up and realize that the meeting is something more, something dark and twisted, something human, something else... I step from the shadows bound in a straightjacket, hallucinating and fleeing for my life. All around me are horrors too dark to describe; you'd think me mad if I tried. I run, slipping on blood, through the bodies lining the walls towards the open door just down the hall. There, freedom, just up ahead... And the thing appears, leaping from the darkness and screaming in rage born in the pits of Hell. We seem to stare at each other for only a second, but by then more have appeared, circling around me, jaws snapping, sharpened limbs gleaming in the soft glow of artificial lights. They close in and I feel the first pains of punctured flesh. Like a bag of sugar with holes in it, I open up and spill out.
And then I woke up and began to doubt, began to question, began to wonder how much was too much, how far was too far? Who cared? All was vanity! All was senseless wanderings through the vast emptiness of space, through desires of longing for more and inhibitions begging for less, through misunderstandings and broken communication, through a world full of wicked sinners and dirty saints. What can be done to atone? What can fix the wrongs? Who will teach me the error of my ways and show me what I can do? Who will read these words and judge, misinterpret, and make assumptions? Who will find the truth in them and discern the fiction? The cynic wants to say the world will happily pick up their stones and toss them, burying me and my wife beneath a pile of broken rocks, our bones fitting in nicely with the white color of the stones. I seek to understand the impossible, to change the inevitable, to fix the problems, to comprehend the mysteries, but I can do none of them. It's beyond me, and in this I must try to take comfort. The meeting has happened, is happening now, and will continue to go on until the end of time.